Protesters trooped in front of Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on May 18 to demand an end to martial law in Mindanao, which intensifies the militarization and violation of human rights in the region, according to them.

The protesters, mostly Lumad, performed a ritual in front of the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) that symbolized the violation of human rights and the destruction of their communities caused by martial law.

According to Ryan Amper, spokesperson of Barug Katungod (Stand for Rights) Mindanao, there are 130 incidents of political killings under the Duterte administration, 76 of which happened under martial law in Mindanao.

“Habang in place ‘yung martial law, dadami pa ‘yung bilang ng pamamaslang. Dadami pa ‘yung bilang ng mga napipilitang mag-surrender dahil sa takot. Dadami pa ang bilang ng iba’t ibang porma ng harassment lalo na sa pag-atake sa mga magsasaka at manggagawa,” Amper said in an interview.

He said the series of bombings and attacks by the AFP caused displacement of hundreds of people in Mindanao, especially Lumad.

Amper said 70 percent of the government troops are deployed in Eastern and Western Mindanao commands. This means that 74 battalions are currently focused on areas which the AFP considers as New People‟s Army (NPA) areas.

The deployment is an increase of 14 battalions from 55 in 2015. There were incidents where the military tags Lumad in poor communities as members of the NPA and forces them to surrender of so-called “mass surrenders.”

“Ang nangyayari po, ‘pag sumurender, NPA. ‘Pag hindi naman sumurrender, NPA pa rin,” he added.

He cited the forced surrender of 517 individuals in two municipalities in Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte that have turned them over out of fear from the military.

President Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law on May 23 last year after Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute group attacked Marawi City.

The government extended the declaration in July and December last year, citing the need to secure the region from further terror threats. —with reports from Reuszchelle Fernandez and Jazzmyn Yza Genovib Gestopa


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